Renault’s newly-launched RS17 and its RE17 power unit have been made to fit; that’s according to the team’s engine technical director Remi Taffin.
Last season Renault were forced to run their engine in a car that was initially designed for Mercedes power due to a late takeover of the Lotus team.
This year, though, the team’s RS17, which was launched on Tuesday, has been designed with Renault’s upgraded engine in mind.
“This is the first car we’ve built as one team with the chassis and the power unit teams both working hand in hand to ensure the chassis can accommodate the power unit as efficiently as possible,” Taffin explained.
“If you were able to be part of the team and look at the naked car and could evaluate the architecture, you would be able to see a lot of difference between last year’s unit and its installation and this year’s.
“The power unit is made to suit the car, and this is a fundamental difference. The engine and the chassis fit together, and not like a puzzle with the RS16. The RS17 is far more homogeneous.”
There have been gains in other areas as well.
“We’ve also worked a lot on the weight, the cooling layout for both power unit and also aerodynamic performance, and then we have targeted a further step forward in performance,” Taffin added.
“On the power unit side we made a good step last year with achieving our targets. We now need to take another step.”
That step involves closing the remaining gap to Mercedes, who have dominated Formula 1 since the beginning of the V6 era.
Taffin, though, acknowledges that it will be a balancing act for Renault as they need to maintain reliability while pushing performance.
“Last year we wanted to cut the gap to the best performing power unit on the grid in half whilst becoming the most reliable power unit on the grid, which is something we feel we achieved,” he said.
“For 2017 we want to close the rest of the gap. This is a high target, and the margin performance gains will be hard won.
“The harder you push for performance the more you encroach on the safety zone for reliability, so it’s a balance which has to be juggled. It’s a battle we relish and which energises everyone.”